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Tencent taps sovereign funds to rescue Universal Music deal, hikes Vipshop stake

Tencent Holdings Ltd. is seeking the assistance of Singaporean state investor GIC Pte. Ltd. and other sovereign funds to help rescue its Universal Music Group Inc. deal after major buyout funds quit the negotiating table, Reuters reported, citing sources.

Vivendi SA revealed in August that it has begun talks with Tencent for the sale of up to a 30% stake in Universal Music, a deal that would value the record label at €30 billion. However, Tencent struggled to find backers for the transaction, as most investors were not comfortable with the valuation demanded by Vivendi.

KKR & Co. Inc. and Hellman & Friedman LLC reportedly walked away from the deal in November due to Vivendi's reluctance to concede to the demands of the buyout funds. The private equity firms wanted a bigger stake of around 30% and more governance control in Universal Music, the sources said.

Talks between Tencent and sovereign wealth investors have gained traction in recent weeks and the parties are working to finalize the deal by the end of 2019, the sources added.

In other Tencent news, the company hiked its stake in New York-listed online retailer Vipshop Holdings Ltd. to 9.6% through a series of open market transactions.

Tencent Mobility Ltd. spent a total of US$84.19 million to purchase an aggregate of 6,472,841 American depositary shares in Vipshop at an average price of US$13.01 apiece.

The open market purchases were made from Nov. 25 to Dec. 13.